Sunday, June 28, 2015

The End is Near...

We talked it over and we've decided to head home. We had trouble finding a motel last night - Rapid City was full! The staff at the Cambria Suites in Rapid City were wonderful to work with - they gave us a big discount after hearing a very brief version of our story even though they only had 3 rooms left. The motel prices are high right now our bill was still over $200. We really didn't want to pay a fortune to stay in the Black Hills. We've been there before and didn't have a lot of special plans.

So we are headed home to Illinois. Tonight we are in Albert Lea, Minnesota. We made a motel reservation before we got on the road this morning and all is well. We just got back from eating right next door. During dinner a heavy rain  storm went through; we walked back to the motel after the rain let up.

We made all of our reservations for our Great Adventure last January and February. We got great deals on our rentals and ALWAYS paid less than a motel. I want to share the rentals and our comments with you.

The first place was a condo in Canmore, Alberta, Canada.
This was very nice, clean, comfortable, and secure. It was a condo with underground parking. A code was needed to get into the parkade and to use the elevator. We'd happily stay there again but will probably choose something closer to Jasper.
http://www.vrbo.com/424488

The West Glacier cabin was very nice but the Internet and TV were iffy. Come to find out, the owner had us logging into the neighbor's internet account! The owner was also a little OCD - she had very nice furnishings but everything was covered. She also had sticky notes on everything. Patti and I talked about removing all of the notes and putting them on the fridge but we didn't. This cabin was VERY convenient to Glacier National Park. We'd pass next time. After giving the cabin a 4 out of 5 star rating, the owner contacted me and asked that I rewrite or remove the rating - she couldn't handle anything less than perfect. I removed the rating.
http://www.vrbo.com/456889

On to Idaho. This house was much older but on a beautiful lake. It was very comfy and we had enough room. The layout wasn't the best but it worked fine. The owner left us yummy chocolate chip cookies. It was a great house to just kick back for a couple of days. We'd probably pass next time and find something a little more modern and a little closer to a town.
http://www.vrbo.com/75512

The first house on the Oregon Coast was a cottage at Rockaway Beach. It was cute, comfy, and clean. We loved it! We were close to the beach and to everything in the tiny town. The enclosed laundry was in the back of the cottage down some steps but it worked out fine. We'd love to go back.
http://www.vrbo.com/240607

When we moved down the coast to Yachats, we found our favorite house on this trip. It was clean, comfortable, and roomy. We were very close to the beach and about 1 mile north of town but we could walk to town on the 804 trail, 1/2 block away. The yard and gardens were beautifully landscaped. We'd definitely go back.
http://www.vrbo.com/273857


We stayed at Rocky Point on Klamath Lake when we visited Crater Lake National Park. This was the little cabin with the Murphy Bed. The house was clean and comfortable as was the Murphy Bed! Some of the writeup was misleading but it all worked out well. This property is very removed from everything. Next time we'd choose something closer to a grocery store.
http://www.vrbo.com/567544

When we were north of Yellowstone National Park, we found our second favorite cabin for this trip. It was clean, cozy, comfortable, and the views were amazing. Whenever, we were 'home', I just wanted to sit on the couch and look out the windows! It was a 1/2 - 3/4 hour drive to Yellowstone but we were in a quiet area - wonderful to return to after a day in the Park. We'd definitely return.
http://www.vrbo.com/379088

Our last rental was the one with the problem. Evidently the cleaning lady forgot to clean it - she got mixed up. However, after seeing the place, we think the owner (who lives in another state) is being taken. The place was NOT clean. The laundry wasn't done, there was still food in the fridge... but there were cobwebs and other signs that someone was not really cleaning the place on a regular basis. It was the only rental I was really concerned about when I made the reservations. We would definitely not recommend it.
http://www.vrbo.com/52908

Our Great Adventure is almost over - it was great; we have had a wonderful time. We should be home mid-afternoon tomorrow in time to unload and pick up a few groceries. I'm thinking by Wednesday, I might get in my sewing room...

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A very long day...

It's been a gorgeous, very warm day but we had to leave the Rockies - very sad! 

Our day was rather uneventful until we got to Lead, SD, to our VRBO rental. It had NOT been cleaned and wasn't going to be! We arrived about an hour after check-in time. We didn't stay. We have always had good luck so this was a surprise and a disappointment. We've talked with the owner and our money is being refunded. Lesson learned: Never again will we rent from an owner that is totally dependent on his cleaning lady to oversee the property because he lives hundreds of miles away.

We are at a motel in Rapid City, SD, tonight. We'll decide what our next move is after dinner.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Another beautiful day in Paradise

We are staying in Paradise Valley, referred to as Paradise by the locals. The valley connects Yellowstone National Park with Livingston, MT and it is gorgeous! I love the scenery our gravel road not so much. Of course, I love being in rural areas and hearing nature sounds. This place is wonderful!


This hanging is in our barn (cabin).
Cabin Rules
Welcome to the good life
where the rules are
short and sweet
No schedules. No Deadlines.
No Dress code. We keep it simple
Take time to Rest, Relax &
Renew. Breathe Deep
Make Smores and
Spend time enjoying
the great Outdoors it's the
Perfect time to hike and
Explore.

We haven't had any S'mores but we are certainly living the rest!

Today we decided to explore Livingston, MT. It's the northern gateway to Yellowstone from I-90. First stop was Back Porch Quilts, a very nice quilt and yarn shop with great employees.

I bought a wide backing and a piece for a background of a quilt in my mind. I also bought some chunky yarn:



We headed on to the Depot. This was a working depot for many years and is now a great museum.

The thermometer was going up, up, up - a bright sunny, very warm day. We headed to Sacajawea Park and had a nice picnic in the shade. After walking a little in the park, we made one more stop on the way 'home'.

The GPS in Jeep went a little crazy  this morning. Not really sure what happened but after spending 1/2 hour at the Chrysler/Jeep dealer in Livingston, it appears that it will have to be replaced after we get home! 

When we got back to the barn, it was time to just kick back for a while. We looked at maps since we'll be traveling tomorrow. We do have GPS on our phones but just wanted to get an idea of what roads we'll be driving. Tonight we'll head down the road for BBQ. 

We leave these gorgeous mountains tomorrow. That's hard when you love the mountains like we do. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Yellowstone National Park - Day 2

We have been in Yellowstone a few times in the past so we have seen Old Faithful, lots of the geysers, paint pots, etc.  We have never been to the northern edge until now. Due to lots of tourists and road construction within the Park, we decided to just spend our time on the north side.

Today we decided to get an early start and visit the Northeast Entrance Road, specifically Lamar Valley. We found 
LOTS of wildlife.

We saw bison - hundreds of bison - some in the road, some in the open areas, some up close near the road!




There were antelope.

This picture of elk was in the town of Mammoth Hot Springs.

The scenery was fantastic - it was another gorgeous day.
Lamar Valley
There's bison way down there.
Lamar Valley
There's bison across the water
More bison across the water
We hiked to Trout Lake. It was a relatively short hike but all up hill. The wildflowers were beautiful.
Trout Lake hike
Trout Lake hike
Trout Lake
Trout Lake
After lunch a picnic of course! in Mammoth Hot Springs the town, we went to Mammoth Hot Springs the hot springs. We were able to drive to the upper terraces; there was still lots of walking. This place is huge! It is very desolate, has that sulphur smell, and is rather fascinating.
Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs
On our way 'home', we stopped at the 45th Parallel which is inside the Park. The Mes had a great time and were loving being halfway between two places they've never been!

One more stop - the Yellowstone River right before we left the Park.
Yellowstone River
Ray is hoping for very clear skies tonight for star shots. There are some clouds but it has cleared quite a bit. I'm just enjoying the couch in 'our' barn right in front of the picture window.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Yellowstone National Park - Day 1

We headed for Yellowstone National Park this morning. When we got to Mammoth Hot Springs, we headed east to stay away from the road work. We've had a beautiful day! 

We were stopped by a bison herd on the road. Eventually they decided to travel toward us on the other side of the road. They were on Ray's side of the car and he got a few photos. Some of those beasts were within 2' of the Jeep. Maybe too close!

We left the main road and drove the Blacktail Plateau Drive, a 6 mile gravel one-way road. We didn't find any wildlife but we found lots of wildflowers.

I was shooting towards the sun but I loved the scenery from that drive.

Shortly after finishing the drive, we headed for the Petrified Tree. Not that it wasn't exciting but the two bears were more exciting! Some days I wish I had a telephoto lens on my phone!

We saw bison all day - many herds and sometimes just one or two by themselves. This guy was just enjoying his afternoon.

 We did visit the Lower Falls...

and the Upper Falls.

Here's one of my photos from last night's sunset. 

And I found a new idea for crocheting today!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Another Travel Day

Tonight we are about 30 miles north of Yellowstone National Park. Our lodging is the second floor of a small barn! It is very modern. The 1st floor is the owner's office. We are out in the country in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains. We'll be here a few days. 

Here's a photo of our living room.

This is the view out of that picture window - gorgeous!

We had an uneventful day of travel which was wonderful. We did see fields in Idaho where I'm quite sure they were growing canola. 

We cut through the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park to get here - there is LOTS of road construction near the north border. The delays took close to an hour of time. We hope to find a different way into the Park tomorrow.

We are just being lazy tonight. Ray is hoping to get sunset photos later. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Quiet Day in Magic Valley

We are in Twin Falls, Idaho - part of the Magic Valley. 
According to Wikipedia, The name "Magic Valley" is a reference to the construction of Milner and Minidoka Dams and a series of irrigation canal systems (such as the Gooding Milner canal) on the Snake River during the first decade of the 20th century. In a short time these projects "magically" transformed what had been considered a nearly uninhabitable area into some of the most productive farmland in the northwestern U.S. Many cities and towns in the region were founded between 1900 and 1910 as a direct result of these projects.

We headed to the Visitor Center first this morning. It is right by the I. B. Perrine Bridge. The bridge is named for I. B. Perrine, who spearheaded the early 20th century irrigation projects in the Magic Valley region and is largely credited as the main founder of Twin Falls. - Wikipeida

The bridge is legally used by base jumpers. They jump off the bridge, near the middle, and drift to the south side of the Snake River to land. 

Since some jumpers were packing their chutes, we stuck around and watched 3 people jump. I didn't get good pictures but it was fun to watch. All three safely landed near the designated landing spot on our side of the river. Sadly the jumps do not always end well. I think they've had 4 deaths already this summer.

About two miles to the right of the bridge, one can see a large pile of dirt. I didn't get a good picture - it is just a pile of dirt in the distance! It is the site where Evil Knievel attempted a motorcycle jump. On September 8, 1974, with much media fanfare, daredevil Evel Knievel tried and failed to leap the mile-wide chasm of the Snake River Canyon on his specially engineered rocket motorcycle. His drogue parachute malfunctioned and opened on take-off. Evel and his contraption floated to the bottom of the canyon, landing on the riverbank directly below his launch ramp (If he'd gone into the river, his safety harness probably would have drowned him).http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2961#sthash.jC00XZVO.dpuf

We drove out to Shoshone Falls, called the "Niagara of the West". The water flow was moderate to low but the falls were beautiful.

Later this afternoon, we visited the Simply Mac store and are making strides in freeing up space on Ray's computer. He uses Lightroom and is running out of room for his photos. We met a clerk at the store last night and he answered a lot of our questions. Today we went back to buy the external hard drive and I think the space problems will improve. 

It's been a relaxing, rather quiet day. Tomorrow we will be on the road again.

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